In our family, we love to EAT OUT.
We come from a long line of people who like to eat and who like to enjoy a meal out.
We like fast food and not so fast food.
We enjoy gourmet dining and down home cooking.
We just love to eat out.
However, we do NOT like to overspend the budget on eating out. It can get expensive really fast. In order to save some money, we have tried some strategies to make our meals out a little more affordable.
These are just a few of our ideas and some ideas I discovered online. I hope some of these suggestions will help you and your family to save a few dollars as you enjoy a meal out.
Here are 15 ways you can eat out for less:
#1 – Drink water instead of iced tea or soft drinks.
Many restaurants charge a lot for beverages. You can save a great amount on your total bill if you will just order water.
For example, here are a few prices I found on our recent receipts from area restaurants:
- Zaxby’s – $1.99 for small soft drink/tea ($7.96 for four people)
- Off the Hoof – $2.50 per soft drink/tea ($10 for four people)
- Kooky Canuck – $2.30 per soft drink/tea ($9.20 for four people)
- Bonefish – $2.85 per soft drink/tea ($11.40 for four people)
- Jason’s Deli – $1.99 per soft drink/tea ($7.96 for four people)
# 2 – Go out to eat at lunch instead of dinner.
Most restaurants have a lunch menu that is separate from their dinner menu. You can cut your cost in half by dining at the lunch hour.
For example – Do you like Olive Garden?
Their “all you can eat soup and salad” is available at lunch for $6.99 each. At dinner, it goes up to $9.99. They also offer many less expensive options at lunch that are not on the dinner menu.
# 3 – Have an afternoon snack before dinner.
Try not to go to the restaurant in “starving mode.” Eat an apple, a granola bar or some other filling snack late in the afternoon. This may help to curb your appetite.
You may also try drinking a large glass of water before you get to the restaurant. This may also help with portion control if you are trying to diet.
#4 – Enjoy the free chips, bread, snacks or whatever the restaurant serves!
You can make a meal on the bread and butter, chips and salsa and other warm-up dishes that many restaurants serve. Take advantage of these free appetizers. You won’t have to order such a big meal if you fill up on the freebies!
#5 – Order an appetizer to cut down on your need for a huge meal.
Most places serve some great appetizers for under $10. You can always start with one of these dishes to stave off your hunger.
#6 – Split something with your date or with the table.
You can share a meal with someone or you could share food at the entire table. Many restaurants will just split the cost between all of the parties at your table.
This can be a really fun way to get to try more options and experience more great tastes.
#7 – Look for Coupons – Look for them online, in the mail and by email.
Many of my friends sign up for Groupons at www.groupon.com. This site will send you regular offers – many of them for dining out.
Try doing an Internet search on your favorite restaurant. You can often find some good deals by doing one of these searches.
#8 – Get on the Email club of your favorite restaurants.
We are members of many restaurant email clubs. The restaurants will send you specials, coupons and updates about once a week. You won’t have to search for the deals; the deals will come to you.
One site that does especially well with these emails is Chili’s. They send out deals, coupons and specials several times a month, letting you know about ways you can save money.
#9 – Take advantage of Early bird specials.
You can find out more about the specials by going to each restaurant’s website and looking for a tab called “specials” or “deals.”
Here are two that I found today:
Osaka – has an entire “Early bird menu”
Shogun – Early Bird 20% off Steak & Chicken, Chicken & Shrimp, or Shrimp & Steak * everyday 5 – 6:30 p.m.
#10 – Go on the right day or night – for example – “Kids Eat Free Night”
I found a wonderful list at this Memphis.About.com link: http://memphis.about.com/od/foodanddining/a/kidseatfree1.htm
A few examples for kids:
Mondays – (most with purchase of an adult meal)
- Abners – kids eat free
- Central Barbeque on Summer – kids eat free
- Olive Branch Catfish – kids eat free
Tuesdays – (most with one adult meal purchase)
- Danvers – kids eat free
- Fazoli’s – $.99 per child
- Holiday Ham – kids eat free
- McAllisters – kids eat free
Be sure to check the website listed above and search your own favorite places for more great deals!
# 11 – Order an appetizer as your meal (huffingtonpost.com)
Order an Appetizer as Your Meal – really.
You can add a side salad and make a meal out of a great appetizer. This one trick can save you up to $10 a person at some restaurants.
For more suggestions like this one, check out this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-daily-meal/the-best-ways-to-spend-le_b_4475922.html
# 12 – Eat free on your birthday (Marketwatch.com)
Many restaurants will allow you to eat free on your birthday (or at a discounted rate). You can find out some of these places by visiting this link: Eatfreeonyourbirthday.com
For more suggestions like these, check out this link: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/6-ways-to-dine-out-for-less-2014-04-10?page=2
#13 – Ask about a half portion (mydollarplan.com)
Some restaurants will gladly make a half size meal for half the price. This may help with that diet as well. You can read more at: http://www.mydollarplan.com/10-ways-to-eat-out-for-less/#ixzz3RGO13jXj
#14 – Dine somewhere that doesn’t require a tip (happyhousewife.com)
A tip can add a great deal to the cost of your meal, especially in a nicer restaurant. Try some places that don’t require a tip like Panera, Chipotle, Humdingers, Mo’s, McAllisters and Jason’s Deli. Since they have counter service no tip is necessary.
For more suggestions like these, check out this link: https://happyhousewife.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/13-ways-to-save-money-eating-out/
#15 – Find senior discounts (usnews.com)
Take advantage of those senior discounts. Many restaurants start offering a senior discount for people starting at age 55. Why not enjoy it?
For more info like this, try this link: http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/02/28/12-ways-to-dine-out-on-the-cheap
I’ll bet you have some great ideas as well.
I’d love to hear your ideas. You can leave me a suggestion in the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope you get to enjoy a meal out this week – for less!
~ This post was first shared on Feb. 10, 2015.
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© Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.